OutdoorRemote-controlledFamily + ChildReview
Makeblock Airblock: the new star in the air, on land and on water
Makeblock Airblock is an affordable drone. It won’t allow you to capture stunning aerial views, but is virtually indestructible, modular and programmable instead. With smart magnetic connections, this drone is transformed into a hovercraft or any other shape in no time.
I’ll admit, I didn’t have the guts to fly the Makeblock Airblock in our open-plan office. I decided that having propellers flying around and possibly never finding them again was too risky. Plus, my work colleagues don’t exactly appreciate loud humming when they’re trying to concentrate.
Watch out: the propellers may fall off
Airblock Drone by Makeblock: drone, hexacopter, hovercraft... anything else?
I took the drone on a test flight outside first and dared to fly it in our entrance area later on. On our outdoor flight, Category Marketing Specialist Quentin Aellen and I almost landed it on a porch. Without GPS and with tiny propellers, controlling and steering this drone outside is tricky, to say the least. A tiny gust of wind and it drifts off. The fact that the Bluetooth connection to the smartphone is rather stable is good to know, but doesn’t help a lot if you’re battling wind.
App: control and programming
As usual in this price range, the Airblock comes without a remote control but with an app. Once you have the hang of it, the app control works quite well.
The connection is established via Bluetooth, which means that it doesn’t have a huge reach and you can’t fly over roofs, fields and lakes. The drone isn’t equipped with a camera, but instead, allows you to programme it as you like. The app has a programming interface with graphical building blocks that serve to set commands with buttons, knobs or a virtual display. How about making the drone shake for two seconds by pressing a button and shaking your smartphone?
The programming interface offers a wide range of possibilities
The possibilities to programme, invent and try out new commands are almost endless: From responding to specific inputs to changing the colour of the LEDs on the propellers, reading the temperature or telling the drone to do a somersault at the push of a button.
Modular and indestructible
Airblock isn’t only a drone, it’s also a land or water hovercraft. The drone comes with a hovercraft base, which you can attach the propellers to and let your hovercraft float on any surface – if you select the right mode on the app. Hovering over tables in the office or from one room to the other in your home is loads of fun. Floating over the lake would be awesome, too, but I recommend waiting with this until the water temperatures allow you to jump after your hovercraft if you have to. It’s easy to leave the Bluetooth range on a large lake and – as in the air – controlling and steering the hovercraft precisely in water or land mode is quite difficult in the beginning.
In addition to drone and hovercraft, you can put the magnetic forms together to build many other shapes. Makeblock Airblock sets absolutely no limits to your creativity and ingenuity.
Converting the drone into a hovercraft
I didn’t go easy on the drone: I programmed it so that the rotors would switch off at the push of a button and I flew it into a few walls – of course, I did so on purpose and only to test how robust it really is. What happened? The propellers fell off a few times (but can just be put on again) and the foam covers got a few scratches. Apart from that, nothing was damaged. The drone still works a treat.
For kids, their parents and teachers
Thanks to the simple programming interface, the drone and the app are suitable for children and teenagers and a fun way to gain experience with technology and software development. And of course, adults will love this drone just as much.
You can’t go on faraway flights or adventures with this drone, as it has a limited range, but it’s still fun to use. Once you’ve sussed out the app control, Airblock is relatively easy to steer – and even if things don’t go as planned, you don’t need to worry. This drone really is almost indestructible.